Wednesday 30 January 2019

West voe birding, Shetland

Its good to see some Red throated divers in the south mainland, these will soon be back in good numbers ready to breed on the Shetland lochs

Always wanted to photograph a wading bird swimming and this Purple Sandpiper did it several times

Sunday 27 January 2019

Shetland - Wildlife in the sun.

After having  light snow over the past few days Saturday was superb. Mild, Still and sunny just the weather for getting out.

We headed down to Grutness and found the car park empty. The small loch was virtually frozen, but Mallard 10 just kept a small patch open. Around the carpark several Rock Pipit, Blackbird(1) Wren and several Starling all searching for food.

I headed for the beach where the light was superb and started to photograph a flock of waders on the tide line. Turnstone (48) Purple Sandpiper (8) Redshank (2) allowed a fairly close approach but the noisy Redshank left quickly putting the whole flock up.

Part of the flock moved along the beach but a good number returned to the same location and started to feed straight away. Turnstone are now in Shetland virtually the whole year and the beaches in the south mainland are good places to search for them

Out to sea, a couple of wintering Red Throated Divers mingled with Long Tailed Duck, a few minutes later three more RT Divers flew in. This is a good number for this time of year as most leave Shetland and head south.

The flock of LT Duck also increased to 36, the males chasing the females around and calling. A flock of Shag (8) joined Cormorant (4) and several Herring Gull and Kittiwake.

Half way along the beach two Snow Bunting came out onto the sands from the dunes, briefly joined by Twite (6)

RT Diver (5) LT Duck (36) Shag (6) Cormorant (4) Eider (2) Mallard (10) Turnstone (48) Purple Sandpiper (8) Redshank (2) Curlew (2) Black Guillemot (4) Kittiwake (2) GBB (4) Herring Gull (6) Hoddie, Snow Bunting (2) Twite (6) Blackbird , Greylag (18) Wren, Rock Pipit(7) Rock Dove (6), Starling (20) , GT Northern diver

Elsewhere a Female Smew turned up at Nesting and close by  a Black Throated Diver joined a flock of Gt North Diver, Bean geese in Unst

Saturday 5 January 2019

Shetland Divers

Over recent weeks we have had 4 species of Diver in Shetland. Black, Red, Gt Northern and White Billed

I did see the Black Throated Diver in west voe but it was very distant so I was unable to photograph it. Black Throated are rare visitors to Shetland. It stayed about a week and may have been the same one that stayed in the same place last year
 Red Throated Diver

 Red Throated Diver are not common in winter and tend to spend time around Eastern Scotland or Northern England.

 The look smart both in winter and summer plumage and easily distinguished between the Black Throated with its checked back and white face

 This bird at Grutness did a circuit as most birds do and it took about an hour for it to return to the beach end where I waited

 Long Tailed Duck
 A flock of 10 Long Tailed Duck flew in but all stayed distant except this male

 This Gt Northern Diver flew in from West Voe and managed to catch three fish while feeding off the jetty

 Looks like a Scorpion fish which it downed in a couple of minutes 

Gt N Diver
A White Billed Diver has again been off  Kirkabister, these divers tend to keep well off shore.

Other birds of note during this past week included a couple of Bewick Swans (First since 2011), the Pied Billed Grebe at Spiggie and a Little Egret at Lower Voe, Black Redstart at Hillwell and a Brent Goose at Sumburgh Farm